Many Users Of DIY Genetic Testing Don’t Understand The Results May Not Be Conclusive
More people are flocking to genetic testing, but false positives are rampant and can lead to weeks of unnecessary panic. In other public health news: sepsis, lung cancer, mental health, hogweed and food labels.
The New York Times:
The Online Gene Test Finds A Dangerous Mutation. It May Well Be Wrong.
Dr. Joshua Clayton, a 29-year-old radiology resident at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, wanted to learn about his ancestry. So he sent a sample of his saliva to 23andMe, the genetic testing company. His report was pretty mundane — no new revelations. But then he sent the profile created by 23andMe to a separate company called Promethease, which promises to do a more in-depth analysis for genetic mutations that cause disease. The news was not good. Dr. Clayton got back a report with a sinister red box at the top saying he had a mutation linked to Lynch syndrome, a frightening genetic disorder that leads to potentially deadly cancers at an early age. (Kolata, 7/2)
Sepsis Is The Third Leading Cause Of Death. Can A Blood Test Change That?
In his spare time, when he feels up to it, Ronnie Roberts walks through hospital parking lots slipping informational flyers onto every windshield.Roberts wants people to know the signs of sepsis, the body’s overwhelming response to a blood infection, which can lead to organ failure and even death. If he had known the signs and insisted that his fiancee was treated appropriately, he believes she’d still be alive. (Weintraub, 7/3)
The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Can The Abortion Pill Treat Advanced Lung Cancer? This Infertility Expert Wants To Find Out
Jerome Check firmly believes that mifepristone, better known as the abortion pill, can extend and improve the lives of terminally ill lung cancer patients who have run out of treatment options. He has enough circumstantial evidence of this that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave him permission to formally test the drug in 40 advanced-stage patients. (McCullough, 7/3)
The Washington Post:
From Apps To Avatars, New Tools For Taking Control Of Your Mental Health
After a friend's suicide last year, Zach Schleien sought some answers through an online discussion forum. He was riveted by the people who shared their pain, such as the 19-year-old woman who never left her room or the man with schizophrenia trying to manage the warring voices in his head. Schleien started wondering if there was something he could do to help alleviate such suffering. His solution turned out to be simpler than he expected: A Slack channel, a private online community for people in life-or-death struggles reaching out in real time to save one another. (Nutt, 7/2)
The New York Times:
Giant Hogweed: A Plant That Can Burn And Blind You. But Don’t Panic.
The nasty effects of touching a giant hogweed — its sap can scar, burn and blind if you come in contact with it — have inspired frightening headlines after the recent discovery of the first confirmed population of the plant in Virginia. The invasive plant’s nefarious reputation is amplified by its size: Giant hogweed can grow to more than 14 feet tall, with leaves five feet wide and stems between two and four inches in diameter. (Zaveri and Hauser, 7/2)
The New York Times:
The Terms On A Food Label To Ignore, And The Ones To Watch For
If your head starts spinning when trying to make healthy and budget-friendly food choices, you’re not alone. Take a look around your local grocery store and you’ll find a slew of confusing terms. Organic. Non-G.M.O. Low-sugar. Superfood. What does it all mean, and how can a normal human shopper possibly make sense of any of it? We asked registered dietitians, food marketers and members of the New York State Agricultural Society for help decoding the labels you see in the grocery store. Let’s break down how to decode the label and get past the marketing into the actual benefits of what we’re buying. (Schumer, 7/3)